Danzig: Manchester Academy – live review
June 19th 2013
It’s nine o’ clock on Wednesday the 19th of June and I am stood outside the Manchester Academy waiting anxiously for my ticket to be delivered by some rather lethargic friends. I had found out about the gig a few months back but didn’t get a ticket as I was put off by some overly enthusiastic ranting by some hipster Liverpool music scene people. Also, I’m not overly familiar with Danzig or the Misfits – only having two albums by the former and one by the latter. I was called up last minute by a close friend I hadn’t hung out with for a while offering me a spare ticket so I thought why not? And hopped on the train to Manchester. Unexpectedly meeting another friend I hadn’t seen in years brightened up not only my journey but also my day – cheers Jinder J.
So I walked up to the venue wondering what sort of crowd this show would attract. I had been disturbed by the fans at the last few metal gigs I’ve been too, lots of poser ‘’alternative’’ kids who are alternative in words only, not in lifestyle. Fortunately, when I turned up there were more than enough overweight biker looking men with suspiciously far too attractive girlfriends to make me feel right at home.
My friends arrived and we entered the Academy, walking up the balcony. I grabbed a pint of massively over priced but still pretty delicious cider from the bar and then went to find a place to stand. I looked out to see the place was rammed – a complete sell out. The expectedly gothic stage layout with its large Danzig skull horned beast banner pulled straight off the first album cover was hung up at the back with smaller H.P. Lovecraft style emblems on either side of the drums. It was quite minimalist I thought, but then my only previous appreciation of a Danzig live show was music videos and the album Thrall.
At about 9.20 the band walked on stage to rapturous applause, straight away ripping into their first number. Glenn’s new band is great, the weakest link being the drummer just because he isn’t Chuck Biscuits who I love (mainly just for his stage name, I admit) but he played extremely well, banging out the rhythms with aplomb. The new bass player had real stage presence, as did the guitar player who supplied badass shred metal guitar licks when they were needed with virtuosity and a rock ‘n’ roll attitude that would put aspiring young guitar slingers to shame. Add also more pinch harmonics Zakk Wylde could shake a greasy bike chain at. Glenn himself was strutting across the stage performing with fury and aggression, delivering well known songs like Twist of Cain, Am I Demon and Snakes of Christ with power and passion. His voice when he talked sounded like it was braking but when he sang it sounded full and loud.
About halfway through the set Glenn started talking about how, when Danzig would tour the states, they would sometimes bring his girlfriend along, then he said to welcome ‘’Victoria’’. The whole crowd started enthusiastically chanting her name ‘’Victoria’’ ‘’Victoria’’ ‘’Victoria’’. Just then Doyle stomps onto the stage looking like a comic book character come to life stripped to the waist in full Misfits make up and standing at least four inches taller than the rest of the band.
He proceeds to attack his instrument furiously like the hulk with an apache helicopter on a particularly bad day. Seeing him perform make me wonder what an incredible experience it must have been to walk into the Rainbow or the Roxy in the 80’s and witness the Misfits in their prime ripping into anthems like attitude (which was conspicuous by its absence if you ask me). The audience erupted, not only with the change of personnel but also with the change of tempo and mood – out with the dark and brooding Danzig and in with some breakneck punk rock anthems.
It sent the moshpit into overdrive, beers were thrown in the air, a woman ran excitedly, weaving her way though the crowd to get a better view of the action and two fat bald middle aged blokes hugged each other in triumph!. Ahhh the magic that live music can bring into the world, it’s times like this that remind me why I don’t watch X factor. The Misfits set seemed to pass extremely quickly but then I guess that’s the point and Doyle plods off the same way he came on.
Now it was Glenn’s show once more. He insulted a guy standing in front of the stage for filming the gig, threatening to ‘’break his arms’’ then inviting the people around the guy too do it before starting his next tune. A slight over reaction if you ask me but that’s steroids for you Glenn, short man syndrome aside. The punters are reviling in the theatrics and when asked to sing along they are only too happy to oblige. The biggest reaction from the sellout crowd was unsurprisingly for Mother, the Danzig anthem.
As soon as the first chord was struck from the instantly recognizable intro riff by the guitar player the house lights went up and what seemed like every pair of hands in the place went up in the air. When Glenn held out the microphone every man, woman and child answered the call. The encore was opened up with She Rides, one of the best songs from the first Danzig album & there were a few more songs to follow. Then Doyle trounces back onto the stage for a rip roaring finale, yet more beer is flung toward the ceiling only to rain down on the sweltering punters in the pit. The last chord is struck, drum sticks go twirling into the wings and devil horns are held aloft by band members and fans alike.
I drink a toast to an enjoyable if all too brief set for my liking and finish the last drop of my pint and then head out into the night to get the train safe in the knowledge that the show I’ve just seen may have been a 25th anniversary but I can’t think of many current hard rock bands that will be putting on shows as good as this in another 25 years – or inviting swarms of sweaty metal heads to call a man bigger than most heavyweight UFC champions ‘’Victoria’’. Which is a shame cos I quite enjoy it.